Liverpool v Fulham – EFL Cup Semi-Final Preview
Pre-Match Tactical Analysis
For this cup semifinal first leg, I expect a tactical battle to be undertaken between two teams with differing patterns of play. A two-legged contest will determine which team meets either Middlesboro or Chelsea, the participants of the other semifinal.
“He hyper extended his knee in the game. Little tear in lateral ligament. He will be out probably 3 weeks. It’s a big blow…he’s one of our most important players. Even in bad spells he was the one who made the difference.” pic.twitter.com/HCH6kHpj3V
— The Anfield Talk (@TheAnfieldTalk) January 9, 2024
On the injury front, Adama Traore Diarra and Tim Ream are out injured, whereas Alex Iwobi, Fode Ballo-Toure and Calvin Bassey, are all away on AFCON duty for their respective countries.
In terms of recent form, Fulham come into this game on the back of a 1-0 home win, as Rotherham were overcome in the FA Cup 3rd round. Prior to that, a brilliant 2-1 win was undertaken at Craven Cottage, as Arsenal fell to their London rivals. The week prior was not a good showing for the 13th placed Premier League side, as their trip to Bournemouth ended in a surprise 3-0 defeat.
Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the away side, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. A dogmatic and counterattacking style will be needed, with the plan to frustrate their illustrious opponents.
- GK – Bernd Leno
- RB – Timothy Castagne
- RCB – Tosin Adarabioyo
- LCB – Calvin Bassey
- LB – Antonee Robinson
- CM – Tom Cairney
- CDM – João Palhinha
- ACM – Andreas Pereira
- RW – Harry Wilson
- CF – Raúl Jiménez
- LW – Willian
In terms of injures, the unavailability of Thiago Alcântara continues until late January (at the earliest), whereas Stefan Bajčetić and Andy Robertson are out until that period also. Joël Matip has sustained a season ending ACL injury, one that may have seen him play his last game for the club. Kostas Tsimikas has made a miraculous return to light training; however, his shoulder injury may restrict a full return until after the return of his left back ally, Robbo.
Liverpool Fitness Update:
🏴 Trent – Knee injury (out for weeks)
🇳🇱 Van Dijk – Team training
🇭🇺 Szoboszlai – Running, not back yet
🏴 Robertson – End of Jan. return
🇬🇷 Tsimikas – End of Jan. return
🇪🇸 Bajcetic – February return
🇪🇸 Thiago – February return
— LFC Transfer Room (@LFCTransferRoom) January 9, 2024
Both Wataru Endō and Mohamed Salah have now set off for international duty, as the Japan captain undertakes the Asia Cup, whereas the Egyptian King will lead his country in the African Cup of Nations. Dominik Szoboszlai has a hamstring injury that will keep him out for another week, however, despite Virgil van Dijk having missed the FA Cup 3rd round win over Arsenal at the weekend, he is expected back for this midweek game. Late news has arisen, which has Trent Alexander Arnold out until February, with an apparent knee injury.
Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the home side, where the hybrid initiative will probably be shelved whilst the vice-captain is unavailable.
- GK – Alisson Becker
- RB – Conor Bradley
- RCB – Ibrahima Konaté
- LCB – Virgil van Dijk
- LB – Joe Gomez
- RCM – Harvey Elliott
- CDM – Alexis Mac Allister
- LCM – Curtis Jones
- RW – Cody Gakpo
- CF – Diogo Jota
- LW – Luis Díaz
Match Prediction and Key Player
How Will This Contest Play Out
I believe momentum and confidence will see the cup favourites, Liverpool, prevail, with a solid first leg home win. There will be some mild rotation, yet given the reds now have an extended rest after this game, I would imagine that a full-strength team (of those available) will be picked.
The attacking intent and defensive power of Liverpool should create too much for the Cottagers to handle, as an intent to take full control of the tie will be taken.
Player to watch – Diogo Jota
Steven Smith Score Prediction:
Liverpool 3-1 Fulham